Nanomolar-range fluctuations of intracellular [Ca2+] are critical for brain cell function but remain difficult to measure. We have advanced a microscopy technique to monitor intracellular [Ca2+] in individual cells in acute brain slices (also applicable in vivo) using fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) of the Ca2+-sensitive fluorescent indicator Oregon Green BAPTA1 (OGB-1). The OGB-1 fluorescence lifetime is sensitive to [Ca2+] within the 10–500 nM range but not to other factors such as viscosity, temperature, or pH. This protocol describes the requirements, setup, and calibration of the FLIM system required for OGB-1 imaging. We provide a step-by-step procedure for whole-cell OGB-1 loading and two-photon FLIM. We also describe how to analyze the obtained FLIM data using total photon count and gated-intensity record, a ratiometric photon-counting approach that provides a highly improved signal-to-noise ratio and greater sensitivity of absolute [Ca2+] readout. We demonstrate our technique in nerve cells in situ, and it is adaptable to other cell types and fluorescent indicators. This protocol requires a basic understanding of FLIM and experience in single-cell electrophysiology and cell imaging. Setting up the FLIM system takes ∼2 d, and OGB-1 loading, imaging, and data analysis take 2 d.
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Multiplex imaging relates quantal glutamate release to presynaptic Ca2+ homeostasis at multiple synapses in situ
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This work was supported by a Wellcome Trust Principal Fellowship (101896), a European Research Council Advanced Grant (323113 NETSIGNAL), a Russian Science Foundation grant (15-14-30000, computing cluster setup), grant FP7 ITN (606950 EXTRABRAIN), and a European Research Council Proof-of-Concept Grant (767372 NEUROCLOUD) to D.A.R.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Integrated supplementary information
See Supplementary Methods for details.
Normalised total count values (open circles) obtained by using the integrated count over the 5-10 ns post-pulse interval in the fluorescence decay, normalised against the count peak value (Fig. 5c). Red solid line, best-fit logistic function (as in Fig. 2b); reduced χ2, 6.5278∙10−6; adjusted R2, 0.997.
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Zheng, K., Jensen, T. & Rusakov, D. Monitoring intracellular nanomolar calcium using fluorescence lifetime imaging. Nat Protoc 13, 581–597 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/nprot.2017.154
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